I always thought I was on the cutting edge of produce. Straight out of college I helped rally two ultimate frisbee teams into calling themselves “Jicama” and ” the Yams” (Eventhough one guy was lobbying hard for “Silence of the Yams”). So when Dr. (we’ll call him) ‘Pennsylvania’ showed up to work with pawpaws, I was floored. “They taste like custard.” A fruit that tastes like custard? Nature is so sneaky and so brilliant! And yes, after getting my paws on the pawpaw, it was confirmed. Pawpaws without the lima-bean sized black pits and peel are creamy with subtle pineapple and banana flavors. Deciduously delicious!
So now I’ve done some research. Nicknamed the “Hoosier Banana,” pawpaws are the largest fruit native to America (conveniently sized to fit in a human paw). The reason we don’t see them in the Whole Foods Market produce section? They have very specific growing conditions and are currently found mostly in the eastern U.S. Their shelf life is short… 2-3 days, but up to 3 weeks if refrigerated. The real kicker is that they’re not self-pollinating, and require cross pollination from unrelated pawpaw trees (when this happens, it’s a minor miracle). AND pollination-enthusiast bees show no interest in pawpaw flowers. How rude! So, pollination is dependent on lazy flies and beetles. Therefore, hand-pollination is key. If you’re interested in trying a pawpaw, your best bet is to plant your own tree, and then enjoy every tidbit of it!
Ever had a pawpaw? I want to hear all about it!